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Vinokourov repercussions

By Paul Verkuylen

The elimination of Alexandre Vinokourov and his Astana colleagues from the Tour de France leaves many questions in regards to the overall classification. Additionally, the Kazakhstan rider's positive A sample throws the rider's two stage victories and the associated time bonuses into doubt.

The Tour de France's rules state that the organisers may "exclude any rider or team whose presence could taint the image of cycling, the organisation, or the race". In this case, ASO has asked Vino and his team to remove themselves from the race, which they have obliged.

However Vinokourov has not yet been disqualified from the Tour, as so far only his first sample has been declared positive for a homologous blood transfusion and like any rider he has the right to request his B sample be tested. For his disqualification to take place, both samples must be declared positive, or non-negative in correct terminology.

The UCI rules state that if a rider is disqualified before a race has been sanctioned (a race is sanctioned when the official results are released) then all classifications will be adjusted. That means every classification - points, mountains, young rider, team and general classifications - will be adjusted to accommodate for the rider being disqualified.

In the case of Vinokourov, if he were to be disqualified, the stages that he won or contributed towards for his team - for instance during a stage when his time was included in the teams prize, or if he took mountain points or sprints - have all been sanctioned, meaning these classifications will not be altered.

In the case that the results have been sanctioned, the UCI rules state that only the general individual classification shall be adjusted and only for top 20 places. Meaning that again if Vino is disqualified the GC will not be altered, but as he has already been removed from the race, all riders will inevitably fall into their rightful positions at the end of Stage 16 - where he will register a 'Did Not Start'.

In the case of Vinokourov's win in the time trial and Stage 15, the UCI rules state that if a rider is disqualified for a violation committed during a stage that he won, then the second rider on that classification takes first place. This then means, should he get disqualified for a positive test in the TT, that Australia's Cadel Evans (Predictor-Lotto) will be declared the winner of the stage. Whether such a ruling applies to subsequent stages, like his Stage 15 win, remains to be seen, but if that were the case then second placed rider, Kim Kirchen (T-Mobile), would be awarded the win.

However the rules fail to state if the rider who inherits the victory is also awarded the associated time bonuses. The Tour's rules state that the first three riders who cross the line in each stage, barring the time trials, receive 20, 12 and 8 seconds respectively. This will not affect Evans, as his second place was in a TT, but it will only be known when the Tour reaches Paris if it will affect the final classification for Kirchen.

Vinokourov's potential disqualification from the Tour will not affect the other classifications, as he was not leading any of them. Astana was leading the team's classification but will quickly move from the top spot by the end of today's stage.

Unfortunately, the answers may not come until long after the Tour has finished, as it is not yet known when the test results of the B sample will be released and infact whether or not the result will be positive. In the case that the B sample returns negative, then an even larger batch of questions will arise - especially from Andreas Klöden and Andrey Kashechkin, who will have effectively been robbed of likely top 10 finishes due to the squad's withdrawal.

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